Houston Mayor Gives State of the City Address
by: Laurie Johnson, January 26, 2006 12:01:00 am
In a speech addressed to members of the Greater Houston Partnership, Mayor Bill White outlined his plan to implement flexible work hours, which he says will cut traffic congestion and save the region millions of dollars.
"Work longer days, take one day off, part of the day in the office, part at home. So we want to encourage flexible working hours, a lot of major employers do it."
Businesses along the 59 and 45 corridors will be targeted to lead the effort. White says removing 300 vehicles from the freeways for 15 minutes during peak time could increase traffic flow by five percent. The mayor also spoke about the need for Houston to comply with air quality standards and says the city will work with Centerpoint Energy to weatherize homes in the Pleasantville neighborhood.
"Many lack insulation, many have leaks around the windows. Civic clubs have fought hard to maintain the neighborhood intact. We have...most of the houses are owned by people with senior exemptions that are struggling to get by on fixed income."
Centerpoint will pay for all the repairs. If successful, White says they want to find a way to offer the weatherization to all Houston homeowners. He says consumers need to know how to battle rising energy costs and he also wants to create a source where residents can find the cheapest rates and shop for the best energy deals. White also spoke briefly about addressing criminal hot spots, and when questioned said improvements to the police force will be his number one budget priority.
"We're gonna keep way ahead of the schedule, and we'll probably increase the effective size of the police department by five percent over about the next 18, 24 months."
Other items in his speech included addressing the high school dropout rate as well as restoring confidence in the Houston Police Department and crime lab.